West Virginia out-toughed Georgetown in win
Published: Sunday, March 4, 2012
Updated: Monday, March 5, 2012 01:03
Neither team made more than 13 shots in West Virginia's low-scoring 39-32 win over Georgetown.
It was the Mountaineer's hustle and physicality that allowed them to get revenge on the Hoyas, who defeated WVU 64-54 at the Coliseum in January.
There were 34 combined fouls in the game – 20 for Georgetown and 14 for West Virginia.
Bodies were flying from the get-go, and there was even some blood spilled when junior center Asya Bussie accidentally elbowed Georgetown's Adria Crawford in the face early in the first half.
"We knew this game was going to be physical," Bussie said. "Last time we played them, I didn't get too many clean looks. But, I think our guards really stepped up and played, and got this win for us because they stepped up big time."
West Virginia's grit on the defensive side of the ball frustrated Georgetown, even though they were getting some open looks.
Jess Harlee, who dove to the floor for loose balls about 10 times in the game, played well guarding the Hoyas' second all-time leading scorer, Sugar Rodgers. Rodgers scored 14 points, but shot just 5-for-20 from the field. She is Georgetown's all-time 3-point leader and made only two 3-pointers in the game.
"You've got to give (credit) to Jess Harlee," said freshman guard Akilah Bethel. "She played really hard. All the guards contributed to it, but she really busted her butt out there, basically, and made every shot she takes. Basically, contested it, and it was harder for (Rodgers) to make shots.
"Every shot she has, she worked for. So, that was our main goal," Bethel said of WVU's defense against Rodgers.
The Mountaineers never backed down from the challenge, even when they weren't scoring on the offensive end.
WVU scored 14 points in the paint and got production from a number of players, not just Bussie and junior center Ayana Dunning. Harlee, redshirt sophomore Christal Caldwell and freshman guard Linda Stepney scored two points each, while Bethel had seven of her own, four of those in the paint. Dunning added three points and seven rebounds.
Georgetown blocked eight West Virginia shots, but the Mountaineers were able to fight through screens and the long arms of the Georgetown defenders to find sophomore guard Taylor Palmer for open threes in the second half, increasing the lead to 10 at one point, from which the Hoyas were never able to fully recover.
All of Palmer's team-high 11 points came in the second half.
"I just think the biggest thing for me was the confidence," Palmer said. " I started losing my confidence at the end of the season because I wasn't hitting my shots. But, I just talked to my teammates, and they had confidence in me, and the coaches still had confidence in me. So, I just came out today and just took my shots and didn't even think about it, just let them go."
On the other hand, the Hoyas' players couldn't buy a bucket. The four other starters made just one field goal in the game, and they weren't easy looks, thanks to West Virginia's tough style of play and determination.
WVU's bench also outscored Georgetown's bench 19-4.